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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2011 8:43 PM. The previous post in this blog was Los cuartos perros. The next post in this blog is Digging in the dirt. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breaking news: Most travelers in Portland still drive cars

Every once in a while, it's nice to hear somebody talking about reality.

Next it's time to talk about why the city's elected officials deliberately make life difficult for the majority -- and get away with it -- in the name of the urban planner ideology. Portland voters must be masochists, or craving a new religion.

Comments (26)

I feel ya, Jack. Especially when I think of how they're gonna do the freeway access at Foster and 205... cringing for all the commuters. We should make a video of the amount of traffic that moves through there during commuting traffic and then look at how many travel by foot and bike. hummmm

Well...duh!
However the current crop of elected creeps wouldn't recognize reality if it slapped them.

Let's not plan for a better transportation policy and instead keep things as they've been historically. Less than half of Americans vote so let's not bother having elections since only the minority vote; I would rather work to increase voter turnouts, but the majority must be right.

So . . . No need to encourage car use, right?

I find fault (not totally) with ourselves who use vehicles 97%, not 94% as claimed by delusive surveys/counts, of the time for not speaking, writing, commenting about the eroding of our vehicle infrastructure.

Very few times at meetings, seminars, councils, board meetings, charettes, do I hear us speaking politely about this issue. The time has come for us to do so, besides voting for a new agenda.

But how can we vote for a new agenda when almost all candidates are contrary to the 97 percent? Worse yet, is that we have Councils, Boards like Clackamas County and Clark County that thwarts voting on major transportation issues or urban renewal that affects transportation. If they are so right, then they shouldn't be afraid to ask us if we think they are right. Common sense needs to prevail.

Yes, we obviously haven't tried hard enough to forcibly "improve" the populace. I love paying people my tax dollars to decry my lifestyle and try to force me into another one.

What would you do if a majority of your country really did prefer to live harmful lifestyles?

In 1973 I was an undergrad on the GI Bill at Portland State and I worked part time as a gopher at an engineering firm. One evening in the Fall of 1973 a number of young engineers came back to the office all giddy and with a little buzz from champagne. I asked them what the occasion was, and they told me they had been at the ground-breaking ceremony for the I-205 freeway. I said, "So?" And I was told, "You don't understand. This is the last freeway project you'll see in Portland area for a long time, maybe in your lifetime." I said, "What?" That sounded crazy. I was told that politicians would never approve any more, that's just the way things were. The point is this anti-car culture has been going on for a long long time.

Aaron: What would you do if a majority of your country really did prefer to live harmful lifestyles?
JK: Define harmful.

Do you mean time wasting transportation? (Transit is slow compared to driving.)

Do you mean too costly? (Transit costs about 5 times what driving costs.)

Perhaps you mean wastes energy? (Transit uses MORE energy than the average car. (Even light rail uses more energy than small cars.))

Suppose their definition of harmful is different than yours? Whose dominates? Do you lead the less harmful lifestyle dictated by George Bush?

That is why we are supposed to be a free country! — Where no one dictates life choices to others unless there is real, clearly defined harm. And I mean REAL harm, not theoretical BS like AGW, Peak oil, baby boom, coming Ice age, limits to growth, Lysenkoism, eugenics and the myriad of other crackpot conjures people use to try to dictate lifestyles to others. (You do remember eugenics, don’t you - thousands of top scientists believed it for decades and it ended up killing millions. So did Lysenkoism.)

Thanks
JK

The internal combustion will be a dinosaur and maybe already is. However, the fact that governments are paying farmers to grow corn to power cars is also absurd, along with raping the northern prairies in Canada to squeeze out the last bit of oil to power the lifestyle of a relatively few people.
Some sort of individual transport will have to be developed. I think that individuality is part of human nature. Even the Maoist rule could not suppress it all over time. Now the Chinese wear western clothes and they also want cars!
I doubt that the people of the USA will allow the governmental entities to take away their cars.

Portland Native,

I've read your posts many times before and I'm surprised you could suggest the car will become obsolete. It defines personal transport: it isn't going away.

The primary focus of automotive evolution is the propulsion system/energy source.

Stored electricity is too complex and heavy for long term viability.

Natural gas is the obvious alternative in the near term, then hydrogen, and (hopefully), some form of "air-charge" batteries that permit recharging while you drive (much like Wii controllers) once the infrastructure has been installed.

"So . . . No need to encourage car use, right?"

No need to actively discourage it either.

In my neck of the woods (back east), the anti-car animus wins out because homeowners figure their propperites get an extra $100-$200K kick by making life difficult for the outlanders and the family crowd (the condo and luxury department developments tilted the population mix towards singles and mingles who don't grapple with the travel/activity mayhem of family life). Their environmental sustainability claims are nothing but phoney BS.

I currently live in in Arlington Virginia, just across the river from DC. One commentator on a local listserv said the following in a moment of candor,

"My impression is that these [road] projects will decrease property values in Arlington and increase property values in Fairfax and further west (the easier it is to commute into DC, the more demand there will be for property out in Fairfax; the less advantageous living in Arlington becomes,the less demand for property there will be in our county)."

The green these folks are pursuing is the kind you find in your hip pocket.

Boycat, I remember a party at the home of Portland's Planner Director a few blocks north of the proposed Mt. Hood freeway along SE Powell. It was probably the summer of 1973. They were celebrating the soon to be announced death of the freeway. Some of those federal dollars for the freeway went to build Portland's first lightrail. The party was more a celebration of the end of all freeways, bypasses, expressways, improved roads.

That was the Goldschmidt era and it lingers to this day, unless a road improvement is for one of the cabals select few.

6% commuting on bikes seems high to me. Is that 6% of people commuting to downtown Portland or within Portland? Or 6% of all Portland commuters - including all the people who commute out of the city?

Shocking! The propaganda ministry would have us believe that our choices are:

1) Clean, safe bicycles and trains that promote healthy lifestyles.
2) Smoke-belching, carbon-polluting, gas-guzzling, carcinogenic automobiles that should be permanently banned from our pristine streets of our insular, xenophobic, ethnocentric, technocratic city.

Commenter Aaron reminds me of the old stereotype that goes, "A leftist is someone who fervently believes in personal freedom as long as it's compulsory."

lw, that crowd did kill the so-called Mt. Hood Freeway, a misnomer if there ever was one-- it wasn't going anywhere near Mt. Hood, but rather diagonally through SE Portland out to the proposed I-205. The Mt. Hood freeway had been planned for a long time, when the Marquam Bridge was built in the mid-60s it had a spur for an off-ramp to the Mt. Hood Freeway that hung out there in space for years and years until they removed it. I don't know if that freeway should've been built or not, it would've cut quite a swath through a lot of SE residential neighborhoods, but at any rate it was considered to be a fait accompli for a long time until the Goldschmidt crowd unceremoniously cancelled it.

Is that 6% of people commuting to downtown Portland or within Portland? Or 6% of all Portland commuters - including all the people who commute out of the city?

It's 6% of the City of Portland's commuters, as opposed to the greater metropolitan area.

The Other Jimbo:

I asked as a hypothetical. What would the right thing be to do if that was really the case? It'd be a tough choice, no doubt.

The point I was going to try to get around to was that if that's really how they think, they sure aren't doing much about it. Nobody's getting their cars taken away, nobody is getting forcibly relocated. Cars are plentiful and easy to purchase. Most cities in the US are designed around the car, with the sprawled decentralization that JK and others seem to desire so much. Is it so bad that a minority of cities try to push a system where cars only dominate THIS much instead of TTTTHHHHHHIIIIIIIIISSSS much?

Cars are plentiful, but increasingly difficult to afford and expensive to maintain and support -- for those with diminished incomes. When you add purchase price to insurance to license fees to maintenance to parking fees to repairs then you've got an expense that the low- and middle-income can't begin to cover on top of rent, food and clothing. Add it up sometime; I think most folks would be amazed at how much money they pour into the luxury of owning one or more passenger cars.

Sure, those who had a car when they began to slide toward economic hell will hold onto it but repairs or insurance may be beyond them as time passes. So they don't repair the car and don't insure or license it, hoping they won't get caught. They can afford the gas and oil and that's about it.

Think that's an overstatement? Think again. There are plenty of people driving older cars, unsafe and uninsured because they have no other way to get to work as they are pushed out into the suburbs by "urban renewal" and condo construction.

I know this situation is neither here nor there re. whether cars or bikes or streetcars are "better" but it does suggest that unless some remarkable new propellant is discovered which is not only easy to produce and affordable, more and more of us are going to be taking the bus and riding the MAX.

Personally, I like mixed transportational use when it comes to cities; you have little choice other than driving in Atlanta, for example.

Oh, just relax and watch your new bridge go in:

http://www.trimet.org/pm/construction/bridgecams.htm#

NW Portlander, you would not be so smug with your comments if you lived in my part of Portland. There is no freaking reality of the bus or the MAX. Last year I attended a 2 day conference downtown. To get to a bus (because parking is expensive and employer was not going to cover it), I had to drive 30 some blocks and park on a side street. So yeah I need a car. Pure and simple. And the effen trains are responsible for the cuts to service on all the routes around here.

I find this fight laughable. Always have. I have never been healthy enough for biking regularly, but envy those that do. But I feel bad for them. The discrepancy between bike behavior, car behavior and visibility combine to smash the hell out of bikes. Sad.

"Still, the region -- defined as “Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton” in the study -- was the only metro area with a population of more than 1 million residents to have a bicycle-commuting rate of at least 2 percent. Bicycling was the main commuting mode for 2.3 percent or residents."

Sure contradicts the 6% plus that the bike nazis publish. You just need to control the time and location of the counts to get the numbers you want.

NWPortlander,

Many studies have shown that gaining access to a car is the greatest employment enhancing mechanism that exists in this country for the unemployed.

It expands the scope of your job search, and affords the flexbility to be on time, whether or not public transit serves the destination.

This is the endgame for the car-hating crowd.


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